Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Dr. Surajudeen Basiru, said that lawyers are integral to credible elections in the country.
Basiru argued that by their calling, they are the vanguards of the rights of the people.
According to him, where lawyers fail to live up to that “sacred” responsibilities, such rights are bound to be infringed, be in contention with others rights or out rightly jettisoned.
“We are an indispensable and integral part of the electoral process and we need to play decisive roles in ensuring the stability and consolidation of democratic governance through free, fair and credible elections,” Basiru said.
He spoke on the topic, “Lawyers, Administration of Justice and Imperative of Credible Elections in 2023 for Nigeria’s Political and Economic Stability” at the 11th Babatunde Olusola Benson (SAN) annual lecture held at the Ikorodu Town Hall as part of activities of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikorodu Branch Law Week. The theme wasNation Building: Our Collective Responsibility.
Others who spoke included Mrs. Funke Adekoya (SAN), Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), and a former NBA National Secretary, Jonathan Taidi.
Dr Basiru, who also represents Osun South in the Senate, said in order for democratic governance to thrive, there must exist an atmosphere where the citizenry collectively subscribe to rules, universal obedience to those rules and uniform and fair enforcement mechanisms, adding that lawyers are critical to the maintenance of this atmosphere.
He noted that lawyers cannot deepen democracy without simultaneously helping to strengthen democratic institutions, stressing that democracy works best when the institutions function effectively and efficiently.
“Lawyers’ efforts to deepen democracy will amount to nothing until judicial corruption is stamped out or brought to the barest minimum. The rot in the judiciary gives impetus to politicians to be more reckless and brazen. This cripples lawyers and prevents them from acting as effective counterweights against tyranny and injustice, exposes citizens to abuses and predations by tyrannical governments and powerful private citizens, and ultimately destroys public confidence so vital to the integrity of the judiciary,” Basiru added.
Adekoya noted that lawyers have obligations to uphold the rule of law, pointing out that where they fail to do this, it would have a negative impact on the country’s political and economic situation.
Accirding to her, the solution is for lawyers, particularly those handling political matters, to uphold professional ethics and be disciplined.